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Personal characteristics of bullying victims in residential care for youth

Ivana Sekol (Faculty of Education, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, Osijek, Croatia)
David P. Farrington (Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Article publication date: 11 April 2016




This research examined some personal characteristics of victims of bullying in residential care for youth. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


A total of 601 young people aged 11-21 from 22 residential facilities in Croatia completed an anonymous self-reported bullying questionnaire, the Big Five Personality Inventory, the Basic Empathy Scale and the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale.


The results demonstrated that male and female victims lacked self-esteem, presented with neurotic personality traits and were likely to believe that bullying was just part of life in residential care. Female victims also presented with lower levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness, while male victims were young and had a history of victimisation during their previous placement, in school and at the beginning of their current placements.

Practical implications

Victims in care might benefit from programmes addressing their low self-esteem, high neuroticism and attitudes approving of bullying. Male residential groups should not accommodate young boys together with older boys. New residents who have a history of victimisation during their previous placement and in school should be supervised more intensively but in a manner that does not increase their perception of being victimised.


The present study is the first work that examines individual characteristics of bullying victims in care institutions for young people. As such, the study offers some insights on how to protect residential care bullying victims.



Sekol, I. and Farrington, D.P. (2016), "Personal characteristics of bullying victims in residential care for youth", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 99-113.



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